The Strategic Reset

Getting Attention Isn't the Same as Creating a Customer

A few weeks ago, the Environics and Agnostic teams were fortunate enough to have Ken Wong, Distinguished Professor of Marketing of Queen’s School of Business, lead a lunch and learn session discussing recent shifts in marketing – with much of the conversation centering on the changing role of today’s CMO.

Ken cited Economist survey data, suggesting that CEOs are increasingly losing confidence in their CMOs; systematically stripping them of customer-centric responsibilities that should typically reside within the marketer’s wheelhouse.  The study also found that when evaluating the performance of tactical decisions (identifying new customers, building customer relationships, increasing marketing KPIs, etc.), “fewer than half of all firms consider their marketing department to be doing these at an effective level.” 

Scary stuff if taken at face value.

And while some chalk this up to lack of overall C-Level support that marketers receive (and the subsequent treatment of marketing as a tactical, not a strategic, function), Ken suggests in his recent QSB Insights whitepaper, The Incredible Shrinking Marketer, that many CMOs are simply not prepared.

“No wonder we find that most CMOs feel unprepared for the major trending areas in marketing.  They don’t feel they can handle the analytics that come from data explosion.  They don’t know how to use social media properly. They don’t know how to deal with channel behavior or shifts in customer demographics.  And why would they? Why would a CEO give resources to help CMOs get prepared when CMOs cannot marshal support for the importance of what they do or even demonstrate that they have the competence to use those resources?"

Our response to change has been tactical. Instead of trying to find better things to do, we simply try to do the old things a bit better.

I read this statement and a flood of conversations with clients, prospects, and peers over the past couple of years quickly entered my mind.  There are people that always want to take immediate action in digital, but it’s the smart ones that want to take the time to think things through. 

Look and know where you think you can land, before leaping, is the basic premise.  In marketing, this translates into identifying and understanding your customers and advocates – and getting a sense of what sort of relationship they want to have with you – BEFORE diving into tactics. As so many companies have come to discover, standing up new social channels is simply not the default solution to audience expansion.  Demonstrating and selling a brand’s core benefits to a customer is that gateway, and when done on the right channel it can be powerful.

Audience research comes with a price tag, but I’ve been encouraged to see a rise in digital marketing audit requests from brands that are looking for an objective agency to surface key findings, pour through analytics, and make strategic recommendations. Tactics then follow. 

If the marketing end game is to create customer relationships that last well beyond campaigns and result in repeat purchases – being able to demonstrate (or defend) marketing decisions through data may not just win over the heart and mind of your boss, but will likely increase customer loyalty as well.



Steve AckenComment